Who Will Dress the Future First Lady?


First Lady Melania Trump  

As the future First Lady of the United States, Melania Trump represents dignity, unity and leadership in our country. Or, at least, she should.

After the election results came in on November 8th, it was safe to say that not many people were thinking about what the future First Lady would wear. There were bigger things to consider - the efficacy of the Electoral College, the economy, racial tension, corruption and the way that the media (and national polls) predicted a completely different outcome. All eyes were not on Melania Trump.

Now, about two weeks later, the dust has settled (sort of) and those of us who have followed the style choices of Michelle Obama for the past eight years are beginning to wonder - who will dress Melania Trump?

There are many facets of the story to consider here. First of all, it is important to note that this election was one of the more divisive ones in recent history. Neither candidate was painted as completely All-American, neither family was unsullied with scandal. For this reason alone, the question of who would dress Melania Trump if she became First Lady was cloudy before November 8th's results came in. However, as the campaign progressed and as millions of people across the United States denounced Donald Trump, this question became even murkier. Recently, Sophie Theallet, a French fashion designer released a statement saying that she would not dress Melania Trump and urged other designers to follow her lead. In contrast, American designer Tommy Hilfiger said that anyone would be honored to dress the future First Lady. Why is this such an issue in our industry? Let us break it down for you.

The Fashion Industry Supported Hillary Clinton

In a well-documented move, Vogue took it upon themselves to support a candidate publicly for the first time in its publication history - that candidate was Hillary Clinton. As a longtime Hillary Clinton supporter (she featured Hillary in multiple issues before the former Secretary of State ran for office), it was not shocking to see Anna Wintour make this declaration. But for Vogue to do it in its hallowed pages was an entirely different story. Anna Wintour - and the editors at Vogue - made it clear that the fashion industry was throwing it support (and money) behind Hillary Clinton's candidacy. As we all know, what Anna Wintour says, goes. As fashion is typically seen as a more liberal industry, many designers followed suit.

But She's Still the First Lady!

True. Melania Trump will be the next First Lady of the United States and that means something to many designers (and their PR people) across the country. The First Lady is photographed incessantly and if she is considered fashionable, the clothes that she wears tend to sell out at lightning speed - just take a look at anything Michelle Obama or Kate Middleton wear as an example. Her title carries a lot of power around the world, and as more and more people begin to recognize Melania Trump, designers will have a hard time turning down an opportunity to expose that large of an audience to their brand.

She is Not Her Husband

Fashion has always been political. This is not a new trend that popped up this year due to the cultural climate, but has been an integral part of the industry since its inception. First Ladies have often been scrutinized for wearing designers of certain origin to a certain event, they have worn gowns with specific meaning for special circumstances and they have even emulated other powerful women with their clothing in order to make a statement. But, you say, this time it's different! Melania Trump's husband has been brash, offensive and generally awful to most of the American population! That may be true, but to a designer dressing Melania Trump would be the opportunity of a lifetime. Melania Trump is not Donald Trump and so, although they are married, she does not carry as much figurative baggage as he does. To a designer, Melania Trump is the next First Lady of the United States, married to a man who makes the news any time he tweets and a possible gold mine for their brand.

Melania Buys Her Own Clothes

Suffice it to say, there would still be cause for concern from many designers about dressing Melania Trump. They may feel that it goes against their personal or company values to support a presidency that they find dangerous and offputting. They may not want to be associated with a possible presidential outburst. They just might have a bad feeling about it. To that I say - Melania Trump will be fine. The future First Lady of the United States notoriously buys all of the clothing that she owns. Why is this surprising? Well, most of the time when a famous figure wears a look from a designer to a major event they are simply borrowing it. Red carpet looks? Borrowed. Photoshoot ensembles? Loaned. The fabulous oversized diamonds hanging around their necks? They'll be returning those by the end of the night. Melania Trump is a different story. The dresses that you've seen her wear on the campaign trail - she owns all of those. The dresses from designers like Gucci, Prada and Ralph Lauren all hang in her closet, tens of thousands of dollars shut away into storage.

To put it plainly - if a designer vows not to dress Melania Trump, she will just send her personal shopper to Bergdorf's to pick out something else (or maybe she'll go custom - we wouldn't put it past her!).

FashionEmma LeumanComment